Thursday, August 22, 2013

A One Hour Tour

For several years.....well, at least the last three years I've wanted to go on a riverboat tour on the South Saskatchewan River.  There used to be two riverboats named Saskatoon Princess and Meewasin Queen. [Meewasin means 'beautiful' in Cree.] The appeal grew greater last year when a new riverboat was brought in called the Prairie Lily.

Prairie Lily was born in Wisconson.  She was a charter ship sailing on the Colorado River until last year when Sheerwater Marine Services of Saskatoon bought her.  The Prairie Lily is a 63 foot 107 ton passenger riverboat.

The forecast was good and I convinced Hubby that we MUST go.  We've waited long enough.....and for what?!  Tickets were purchased online for $20 a person.  Boarding time was 6pm Wednesday.

The plan was that Hubby would come home from work and I've have toasted tomato sammiches ready to eat.  It was so we could get to the Mendel Art Gallery loading dock in time.  I did have it all ready, but when Hubby arrived home the weather had gotten unfavourable.  The wind had kicked up and I was becoming disappointed that it wouldn't be a nice evening like we had been experiencing.

Phooey.

I ended up wearing capris, my black sparkly sneakers, tank top & a bunny hug.  That's a hoodie for all you non-Saskies.  We were on time for boarding but others were not.  It seemed that there was a group of coworkers and they weren't arriving on time.  Boarding seemed to take forever because of it.  We finally disembarked around 6:30.

" I'm King of the World! "
We sailed by the tents of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan on one side of the river and the University of Saskatchewan on the other.  Something I did not know before was that attractive graystone building near the top end of the University bridge was built to house University Presidents, which it has done to this day. And, in fact, whenever British royalty visits the City, they are accommodated in this grand old house while the University President of the day is moved temporarily to the Bessborough Hotel.  I would have thought the royalty would stay in the hotel!

The Prairie Lily sailed under 4 bridges.  Saskatoon has many bridges both for cars and trains.  It seems like there are never enough either!  


On the cruise we found out facts about the river.  We were told that it's really not that deep.  It's only 1 or 2 metres deep and the riverboat has to follow a particular channel of 2 or 3 metres deep.  Because of this, we were shown how to use life jackets and boats but were told we could likely just take a leisurely walk to shore!

Next we sailed by the Bessborough Hotel.  I've blogged about it before.  Again, I learned things I did not know!  This grand old lady was built by the railroad between 1928 and 1932, but was unable to open until 1935 because of financial woes caused by the Great Depression. The hotel boasts 225 rooms; its modern French Renaissance design is similar to the other famous railway hotels across Canada.  Design features include 32 unique gargoyle - like statues at front and sides. Of course, Grotesques and gargoyles are normally images of mythological creatures but the ones on the hotel are images of Saskatchewan creatures like buffalo, beaver, moose, and deer and even a giant bumblebee!  I would have never known this!  I also learned that falcons make homes on the top of the Bess! So cool!


We were told about the role of the South Saskatchewan River during the Riel Rebellion.  We were told about the Victoria Bridge which is being dismantled.  We were told about a ship wreck!  Then everyone became quiet as we passed some very stately homes.  I marveled at the yards....the winding paths to the river and gorgeous flowers.  How lucky those people are to be able to enjoy our river.  However, it was ruled that the land along the river will no longer be used for homes and be for public purposes instead as parks etc.  I love that idea of conservation.

We turned to return to our launching point.  We were told to look off one side of the riverboat as we were being welcomed back by a beaver!  You can't get much more Canadian than that!


We loved the cruise.  Hubby was so glad I insisted on going and wondered why it took us so long to do it.  We walked very happily back to our car just as the sun was setting on another memorable adventurous evening.